Call of the Riled

STOCKHOLM, Feb 11 (Reuters) - A possible link between mobile phone radiation and Alzheimer's disease is being tested on laboratory rats, the leader of a Swedish university research team said on Friday. Neurosurgery professor Leif Salford told Reuters, "I cannot say that mobile phones give Alzheimer's. But we cannot rule it out," Some medical experts have suggested that microwave radiation from heavy use of mobiles could cause brain tumours as well as serious side-effects, including headaches, nausea, tiredness and sleep problems.

Despite the above, there's really no need for anyone to bother with any more research: even the most cursory observation around London reveals the that using a mobile phone immediately brings on Alzheimer's. You can see the victims all across town, spouting their banal, irrelevant drivel and shuffling along as if crippled by an inability to walk and talk at the same time. Any similarity to Ronald Reagan is no coincidence. The only thing capable of draining as many IQ points is wearing a baseball cap backwards, which instantly reduces the wearer to the evolutionary level of a baboon. [Would it be cool and hip to wear your trousers back-to-front, or would that be the behaviour of a village idiot? Discuss...]

The trauma of mobile phones begins with the ring; back in the days when they all had the same sound, at least you could snigger as the entire top deck of the No.2 bus through Brixton lunged for their pockets, unsure whether it was their phone ringing. Now, they all play different tunes, but the new problem is this: there is no tune on Earth which is bearable when reduced to the beeping of a mobile phone. I think the worst aesthetic atrocities, to my tender ears, are the classical tunes: something intended to be played by a full symphony orchestra, is not going to sound anything byt painfully grating coming out of an electronic Mars bar. [That whirring sound you hear, is Mozart turning in his grave] After this, you have to listen to one side of someone else's conversation, almost inevitably at the "I'm on the bus" level -- of the hundreds I've overheard, I've yet to hear a single one that couldn't have waited till the perpetrator reached home. And do not get me started on imbeciles who take their mobile phones into cinemas...that's a whole separate rant in itself. Let's just say that there are certain things which should only be done in private, between consenting adults, and phone conversations are definitely on the list.

Sure, there are people who need them; if your job is of no fixed abode, then I can see the point. And if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, I'll cheerfully admit a cell phone would be useful. But outside of a small set of similarly special circumstances, I'm baffled: my employer gave me a phone several years ago: it's currently lying (I think - not checked it for months) in the bottom of my briefcase, with a dead battery. Put simply, if I'm not at home, it's because I'm out doing something entertaining, and if that's the case, I don't want to be interrupted. I own no small children who might be bleeding from the eyes: whatever it is can wait. Even if TC Towers was burning down, what would I gain by learning about it this instant? [Unless, of course, I wanted to toast marshmallows]

Phone me when I'm in the middle of watching a movie, and you will get, at best, short shrift, and more likely the answering machine. For while increased communication is a good thing, that's only on my terms. If we start behaving like a pack of Pavlov's dogs, springing into action at the sound of a bell (or, more likely, a tinny rendition of the theme from Star Wars), regardless of where we are, we have become the servants of the technology, and not the other way round.


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